PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With protests happening nationwide over the rulings in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases, race relations between police forces and communities has been described as tenuous at best.
A cartoon in a local paper received ire for its comments on the subject.
An editorial cartoon appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times that depicted kids asking Santa Claus to “keep us safe from the police.”
Cartoon from Bucks County Courier Times 12/7 edition, ridiculousness at its absolute best BCCT time 4 me to cxl sub. pic.twitter.com/hJtbSgkW42
— Pat Lavanga (@KKsPopPop) December 10, 2014
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told WPHT morning host Chris Stigall that he feels that the cartoon is terrible, should have never been published, and does nothing for the relationship between children, their parents and the police.
“What does that really do to strengthen relationships? Is it really that bad where you have little kids that would say that to Santa Claus? I’ve had parents that had their little child with them and I’m in uniform and they say, ‘Now you be careful, that policeman might come and get you.’ Well, don’t make us into the boogie man. If that child is lost, you want him to walk up to a policeman and say ‘I’m lost,’ so that we can find the parents.”
Ramsey’s initial reaction to the cartoon was to think of his fallen officers and what their loved ones would have to say if put in the same situation as the children in the cartoon.
“The first thing that crossed my mind, if you have a line of kids meeting Santa Claus, I looked at the wall I have in my office, I have seven police officers in the six years that I‘ve been here, killed in the line of duty. What do you think their children would’ve been asking Santa? ‘Can I have another day with my father?’ That’s what their question would’ve been. It cuts both ways, and I think that people need to be sensitive to that. We’ve got men and women that risk their lives on a daily basis to serve the public — the very public that people are saying that we don’t care about. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t have officers that engage in acts of misconduct. Some do, and we need to really go after them and go after them hard, because they damage the entire profession.”
On Thursday, the Courier Times issued a statement in response to the cartoon:
“The editorial staff and management team of the Bucks County Courier Times respect the work of law enforcement and appreciate the risks they take and sacrifices they make each day.
The editorial cartoon that was published in our newspaper on Sunday, Dec. 7, was a commentary about the broad and complex relationship between black youth and police in America. It’s a relationship that has room for improvement, as has been acknowledged by members of both communities.”
The statement continues:
“Though we don’t know what was in the heart and mind of the award-winning syndicated cartoonist who penned the cartoon, it was selected for publication for thoughtful reflection on that relationship. It in no way was intended to indict the law enforcement community.
If we had recognized prior to publication that the cartoon would have caused unintended offense, our editors would have selected a different one for Sunday’s newspaper.”
To read the full statement, click here.